Malta Football Association
Clash of the titans as battle for title rages on
Apr 1, 2017
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BOV Premier League

Following Malta’s 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier against Slovakia last Sunday, this weekend will be another defining occasion for the BOV Premier League front-runners, with the battle of the titans, leaders Hibernians and second-placed Balzan, standing out as the principal duel.

The race for the title has so far been nothing but exhilarating with the Paolites, Balzan and Valletta jockeying for pole position and, Floriana and Birkirkara also in the reckoning in the initial stages. 


The Stripes have now lost ground and are eight points adrift of the third-placed team and one behind Floriana. Unless the Greens and the Yellow-Reds can cut this deficit drastically, the three front-runners will definitely have the final say in a bid for glory.


The big match will see Hibernians and Balzan facing each other, with the Paolites eyeing victory and a subsequent five-point lead over their opponents while Oliver Spiteri’s boys seek to regain the top position, one point ahead of the Paolites.


“It is a game that we are looking with interest aslo due to the fact that, with victory on Sunday, we would reclaim first place in the table,” Desira told a news conference at the National Stadium.


“After the debacle against Valletta, the players look motivated and determined to show their capabilities and regain what they had been working for throughout the season.”


In the previous matches between these teams Balzan beat their opponents 1-0 and 2-1. 


Mark Miller will surely hope to avenge these defeats.


Hibs captain Clayton Failla didn’t mix his words when he said that it’s time that the leaders gained sporting revenge on Balzan.


“The game against Balzan is an important one for us,” Failla said.


“We know that Balzan have one of the strongest teams in the championship.


“We are ready for this game like we were for previous matches like Mosta and Pembroke.


“The time has also come to gain sporting revenge on Balzan as we haven’t won against them this season.”


Both coaches will prepare their attacking lines as well as their trenches in a well-devised way in order to gain maximum dividends from what will certainly be a much-awaited encounter on Sunday at 4pm at the National Stadium.    


Brazilian midfielder Francisco Anderson De Barros is out for Balzan, suspended.



In the following match, Valletta will regard their duel with Floriana with the same intensity in the knowledge that any ensuing loss of points by the leading teams could bring them closer to the summit should they beat the Greens.


Moreover, the champions will be all out to secure their first league victory over their neighbours after losing the first match 2-0 and drawing the second 0-0. 


It should be a dour struggle between two unyielding sides, with the opposing fans ready to cheer on their team to the hilt.


Valletta, who stayed in the title hunt with a 1-0 victory over Balzan before the international break, are concerned about the fitness of defender Ryan Camilleri and midfielder Rowen Muscat.


Camilleri suffered a shoulder injury during Malta’s 3-1 defeat to Slovakia while Muscat is in the final stages of his recovery from an adductor problem.


Floriana have their fair share of selection worries as flank defender Jurgen Pisani and midfielder Maurizio Vella are sidelined with injuries and Andrè Scicluna is suspended.



In the other matches on Saturday, Tarxien and Ħamrun Spartans at the National Stadium followed by the St Andrews-Sliema clash at the Hibernians Stadium, should be balanced affairs involving teams in mid-table.


Sliema, who held Birkirkara to a one-all draw in their last outing, will be without Frank Temile who must serve a one-match ban.


Gżira and Birkirkara are regarded as favourites to pick up the three points when they come up against Pembroke Athleta and Mosta respectively.


The Maroons’ and Stripes’ current form suggests a clear way for them. 


Darren Abdilla, the coach of Gżira, will have to watch the game from the stands after incurring a one-match touchline ban following his confrontation with Johann Scicluna, Mosta’s assistant coach who is also suspended from the dug-out.


Gżira midfielder Zachary Scerri is out with a one-match ban while Mosta will again be without Brazilian Pedrinho, also suspended. 

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